Citing the state of Iowa’s dubious designation as being the state with the most structurally deficient bridges in the entire country, Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer toured road and bridge infrastructure in Peosta and Dyersville Monday, days after the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on which she serves advanced a $500 billion infrastructure investment package that will provide nearly $4 billion in new funding for projects in Iowa. She is also vice chairwoman of the House Highways and Transit subcommittee.
The driving tour began in Peosta, where Finkenauer and other leaders from Dubuque County saw intersections of concern, before heading west to Dyersville. Communication was accomplished by speakerphone from within the dry confines of vehicles on the tour.
The final Dyersville stop was for a roundtable discussion at Candy Cane Park.
“It’s been great to get out and see some important projects that one, should be happening, and two, need to be happening,” said Finkenauer.
The congresswoman brought up the issue of the structurally deficient bridges, but added, “I know Dubuque County has done a great job of working on so many of theirs, but there is still a lot of work to be done.”
Mick Michel, Dyersville city administrator, discussed some of the projects at the top of the list, after thanking Finkenauer for her continued support of the city’s “If you BUILD It…” Project. The word BUILD is an acronym for Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development grant funding to support the construction of key roadway and bridge improvements.
“The City applied for a BUILD grant this year,” said Michel. “We requested funds for about $15.8 million in funding to build three bridges to help with our inner infrastructure.”
The grant request states that to prepare for oncoming growth and tackle the safety challenges of recurrent flooding, Dyersville contracted with a transportation engineering firm to study and design three roadway and bridge projects: the 13th Avenue SE Connection, the 7th Street SW Extension and the Beltline Road Overpass. The purpose of the project is to improve safety by creating better access to flooded neighborhoods, decrease traffic and crashes on Highway 20 east-west route across Dyersville and removing an at-grade railroad crossing.
Michel added, “Transportation needs are greatly needed to continue the support of (Major League Baseball) projects, along with economic growth in the area.”
Finkenauer knows the importance of good infrastructure across the state. “The need in Iowa is so huge for real infrastructure investments, especially in our rural areas that have been overlooked for some time.”
While waiting to see the outcome of the infrastructure investment package, Finkenauer remains cautiously optimistic. “There’s a lot of hope here for the projects that hopefully can be coming into our communities and also with that, the good-paying jobs they create when they do.”